Concussion recovery may be helped by blue light therapy
The United States military continues to fund research into brain injury heavily and this funding is yielding results. It appears that blue light therapy has some benefits for those with concussion by helping the injured person sleep better.
It is well known that brain injury (concussion) can cause serious functional disruptions to patient lives. One of the greatest problems faced is the inability to sleep properly. It’s also well known that sleeping is critical to recovery.
Mild concussion or mild TBI is a controversial term in the medical community with some now preferring to call all concussion ‘brain injury’. Mild TBI is used in the latest research results so we will use that term in this article.
Mild TBI is a common injury that results from slips and falls, car accidents, fights and sports injuries. After a concussive force people may see stars, become disoriented, suffer headache, struggle with confusion or mental fog, or they may even lose consciousness for short periods of time. These injuries can result in weeks or even months of symptoms which can disrupt life. For some all of the symptoms can be accompanied by sleep disorders and disturbed sleep.
According to some research up to half (50%) of those who suffer a mild TBI (brain injury) complain of having chronic sleep issues. Sleep is crucial to the self healing and recovery of brain function. The lack of sleep can compound memory, thinking and recovery. Almost 15% of those with mild TBI complain that their symptoms last for a year or more.
Research now shows that the symptoms suffered by patients are due to tearing and stretching of brain cells caused by the concussive blow. When the blow is received, and the head is moved violently the brain shakes inside the skull like a bowl of Jello. This shaking causes the tears and stretching.
Researchers and doctors know that there are no drug treatments that are effective for mild TBI recovery, so they went on to research whether getting enough sleep aids in the repair of brain tissue.
In a clinical trial involving 32 adults with mild TBI. They exposed participants to blue light for 30 minutes every morning for six weeks. The control group got amber light exposure. Blue light is a cue to the brain that it’s time to get up and begin the day. Being extra stimulated in the morning makes your brain more active through the day and begins the circadian rhythm- resetting the brain clock – cueing that night is sleep time.
The results of the research found that the blue light exposure helped adults with concussion sleep better and recover brain structure, and cognitive performance faster.